Tag Archives: Tom Pawlak

Big Batch Mixing Methods

By Tom Pawlak

Most of us use epoxy in small batches, mixing several ounces at once. This gets the job done 95% of the time. But for some projects, such as large laminating jobs, you may need large batches of epoxy. Before you begin, you should understand what’s involved in mixing big batches of epoxy. Continue reading

Fiberglassing – Shop Tips

By Tom Pawlak

Corners that require fiberglassing need to be rounded to allow the fiberglass cloth to conform to the corner. If the fabric you are working with won’t conform to a rounded corner, here’s a tip that may help. When draping fiberglass around a corner, orient it so the fibers are at a 45° angle to the corner. The fibers will conform much better than if oriented at 90°, because they are not bending nearly as much. Continue reading

removing fiberglass

Fiberglass Removal Techniques

By Tom Pawlak

Occasionally we receive calls from people who want to remove fiberglass cloth from wooden structures. The fiberglass on the bottom of a stripper canoe has worn out or the fiberglass and polyester on the deck of an older wooden sailboat has delaminated. The techniques described here work well for removing 1 or 2 layers of fiberglass cloth from wood surfaces. Continue reading

primer performance

House Paint Primer Performance

By Tom Pawlak

In the past, we’ve recommended applying an alkyd base primer over well cured, clean, and sanded epoxy surfaces. We wanted to know how this primer compared to the newer, fast drying primers now available. We recently did a study of various house paint primers over epoxy to support the growing number of customers using WEST SYSTEM epoxy for building restoration. Continue reading

scarffing plywood

Plywood Scarffing Methods

By Tom Pawlak

There are many ways to machine scarf bevels on plywood panels. The best method depends on how many scarf joints your project requires. If you need to scarf only two sheets of 3mm plywood, using a block plane and sanding block is a good low cost option. If you have a daily need to scarf many panels, a reliable machining method is a wise investment. This article reviews several popular scarffing methods and tools, to help you decide which is best for you. Continue reading

vacuum table

The Vacuum Table

By Tom Pawlak

A vacuum hold down feature can be incorporated into a table to hold individual sheets of plywood in place while you machine scarf bevels. This feature works especially well when using the router box technique described in the scarffing article. You’ll need a fairly large vacuum pump. We use an oilless rotary vane vacuum pump made by Gast, Model No. 3040-V115A. It generates 25 cubic feet per minute (cfm) at no vacuum and 5 cfm at 20″ of mercury. Smaller units may work, but lots of cfm and reasonably high vacuum are required when plywood is warped or rough. A vacuum table will work most efficiently holding down smooth, flat plywood panels. Continue reading

Relief from Fiberglass Irritation

By Tom Pawlak

Working with fiberglass fabrics can cause skin irritations ranging from minor itching to a serious rash. It’s caused by microscopic, needle-like fiberglass spindles of that prick your skin. It helps to protect your skin with gloves and long sleeves, but you still might be faced with fiberglass induced itch.  Continue reading

Specialty Tools for Fairing

By Tom Pawlak

The Fairing File

My son Matt and I recently built a small stitch-and-glue boat. While fairing the bottom we discovered that hacksaw blades can be modified and used for fairing.

The buildup of fiberglass tape along the chine and keel had caused a low spot in the hull all along the edge of the fiberglass buildup. Filling the low spot with low-density filler was easy, but sanding the cured epoxy with sanding boards was slow work. Experimenting with a new hacksaw blade, we found it easily cut through the low-density filler and occasional high spots in the fiberglass. Continue reading

Minimizing Amine Blush

By Tom Pawlak with Tim Atkinson

I recently built a double-ended paddle for my kayak. The blades were made of thin mahogany plywood coated with epoxy. I had coated all the paddle parts with two coats of epoxy the day before, and overnight a thin oil-like film had formed on the surface of the epoxy. This is amine blush. To ensure a good bond between the blade and the shaft, I removed the blush with water, dulled the surface with an abrasive pad, and dried the surface with paper towels. I’m confident using my new kayak paddle because the mating surfaces of the shaft and blade were properly prepared prior to bonding. Continue reading